111 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. a constellation already described in 1805 by Heinrich von Kleist in his fascinat-ing analysis of the “Midwifery of Thought”: “If you want to know something and cannotfind it through meditation, I advise you, my dear, clever friend, to speak about it withthe next acquaintance who bumps into you.” 43 The positive tension that such a conversa-tion immediately elicits through the expectations of the Other obliges one to producenew thought in the conversation. The idea develops during speech. There, the sheeravailability of such a counterpart, who must do nothing further (i.e., offer additionalstimulus through keen contradiction of the speaker) is already enough; “There is a specialsource of excitement, for him who speaks, in the human face across from him; and agaze which already announces a half-expressed thought to be understood often givesexpression to the entire other half.”44
      1. Heinrich von Kleist, “Ü ber die allm ä hliche Verfertigung der Gedanken beim Reden,” in Sämtliche Werke und Briefe. Zweiter Band, ed. Helmut Sembdner (M ü nchen: dtv, 1805/2001), 319 – 324, at 319.
      2. Ibid., 320.

      in 1805 Heinrich von Kleist noted that one can use conversation with another person, even when that person is silent, to come up with solutions or ideas they may not have done on their own.

      This phenomena is borne out in modern practices like the so-called "rubber duck debugging", where a programmer can talk to any imagined listener, often framed as a rubber duck sitting on their desk, and talk through the problem in their code. Invariably, talking through all the steps of the problem will often result in the person realizing what the problem is and allow them to fix it.

      This method of verbal "conversation" obviously was a tool which indigenous oral cultures frequently used despite the fact that they didn't have literacy as a tool to fall back on.

    1. Every bit of new information fills in the blanks of a time that has long since passed out of living memory.

      Our written records have increased incalculably because our living memory doesn't serve us or our society or culture the way it previously did in pre-literate times. The erasure of cruelties and tyrrany is all to easy when we rely only on literacy, particularly when book banning and erasure can easily become the norm.

  2. May 2022
    1. knowledgebegins with the simple, time-honored practice of taking notes

      Definite bias for literacy here.

    2. It’s time for us to upgrade our Paleolithic memory

      I'm not a fan of digs at the idea of our "Paleolithic memory", particularly as there is some reasonable evidence that oral memory methods in the Paleolithic are probably vastly superior to those "modern" humans are using now.

      Cross reference: Kelly, Lynne. Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107444973.

    3. You may find this book in the “self-improvement” category, but in adeeper sense it is the opposite of self-improvement. It is aboutoptimizing a system outside yourself, a system not subject to you

      imitations and constraints, leaving you happily unoptimized and free to roam, to wonder, to wander toward whatever makes you feel alive here and now in each moment.

      Some may categorize handbooks on note taking within the productivity space as "self-help" or "self-improvement", but still view it as something that happens outside of ones' self. Doesn't improving one's environment as a means of improving things for oneself count as self-improvement?

      Marie Kondo's minimalism techniques are all external to the body, but are wholly geared towards creating internal happiness.

      Because your external circumstances are important to your internal mental state, external environment and decoration can be considered self-improvement.


      Could note taking be considered exbodied cognition? Vannevar Bush framed the Memex as a means of showing associative trails. (Let's be honest, As We May Think used the word trail far too much.)

      How does this relate to orality vs. literacy?

      Orality requires the immediate mental work for storage while literacy removes some of the work by making the effort external and potentially giving it additional longevity.

    1. of all the horse customs found in the British Isles, only the Mari Lwyd has a poetry competition at its heart. The Pwnco might be a challenge for some parts of 21st century Wales now that village bards are scarcer, but learned or improvised, the lyrics and the contest give scope for local and topical references, and showcase the traditional Welsh love of language and poetry.

      Worth looking into the tradition of village bards in Wales.

      What is a Pwnco?

  3. Apr 2022
    1. It is notinsignificant either that among the illustrations of the Roland Barthes par RolandBarthes there are a series of facsimile reproductions of the author’s handwriting,analogic reproductions of linguistic graphemes, pieces of writing silenced,abstracted from the universe of discourse by their photographic reproduction. Inparticular, as we have seen, the three index cards are reproduced not for the sakeof their content, not for their signified, but for a reality-effect value for which ourexpanding taste, says Barthes, encompasses the fashion of diaries, of testimonials,of historical documents, and, most of all, the massive development of photogra-

      phy. In that sense, the reproduction of these three slips ironically resonates, if on a different scale, with the world tour of the mask of Tutankhamen. It refers, if not to the magic silence of a relic, at least to the ghostly parergonal quality of what French language calls a reliquat.

      Hollier argues that Barthes' reproduced cards are not only completely divorced from their original context and use, but that they are reproduced for the sheen of reality and artistic fashion they convey to the reader. So much thought, value, and culture is lost in the worship of these items in this setting compared to their original context.

      This is closely linked to the same sort of context collapse highlighted by the photo of Chief William Berens seated beside the living stones of his elders in Tim Ingold's Why Anthropology Matters. There we only appreciate the sense of antiquity, curiosity, and exoticness of an elder of a culture that is not ours. These rocks, by very direct analogy, are the index cards of the zettelkasten of an oral culture.

      Black and white photo of a man in Western dress (pants, white shirt, and vest) sits on a rock with a forrest in the background. Beside him are several large round, but generally otherwise unremarkable rocks. Chief William Berens seated beside the living stones of his elders; a picture taken by A. Irving Hallowell in 1930, between Grand Rapids and Pikangikum, Ontario, Canada. (American Philosophical Society)

    1. the brain stores social information differently thanit stores information that is non-social. Social memories are encoded in a distinctregion of the brain. What’s more, we remember social information moreaccurately, a phenomenon that psychologists call the “social encodingadvantage.” If findings like this feel unexpected, that’s because our culturelargely excludes social interaction from the realm of the intellect. Socialexchanges with others might be enjoyable or entertaining, this attitude holds, butthey’re no more than a diversion, what we do around the edges of school orwork. Serious thinking, real thinking, is done on one’s own, sequestered fromothers.

      "Social encoding advantage" is what psychologists refer to as the phenomenon of people remembering social information more accurately than other types.

      Reference to read: “social encoding advantage”: Matthew D. Lieberman, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect (New York: Crown, 2013), 284.

      It's likely that the social acts of learning and information exchange in oral societies had an additional stickiness over and beyond the additional mnemonic methods they would have used as a base.

      The Western cultural tradition doesn't value the social coding advantage because it "excludes social interaction from the realm of the intellect" (Paul, 2021). Instead it provides advantage and status to the individual thinking on their own. We greatly prefer the idea of the "lone genius" toiling on their own, when this is hardly ever the case. Our availability bias often leads us to believe it is the case because we can pull out so many famous examples, though in almost all cases these geniuses were riding on the shoulders of giants.

      Reference to read: remember social information more accurately: Jason P. Mitchell, C. Neil Macrae, and Mahzarin R. Banaji, “Encoding-Specific Effects of Social Cognition on the Neural Correlates of Subsequent Memory,” Journal of Neuroscience 24 (May 2004): 4912–17

      Reference to read: the brain stores social information: Jason P. Mitchell et al., “Thinking About Others: The Neural Substrates of Social Cognition,” in Social Neuroscience: People Thinking About Thinking People, ed. Karen T. Litfin (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006), 63–82.

    2. In these sessions, students didn’t listen to a description ofcomputer science concepts, or engage in a discussion about the work performedby computer scientists; they actually did the work themselves, under the tutors’close supervision.

      The process seen in cognitive apprenticeships seems more akin to the sorts of knowledge transfer done in primary oral indigenous cultures by passing down stories and performing (song, dance, art, etc.) knowledge.

      It shouldn't be surprising that cognitive apprenticeships work well given their general use by oral cultures over millennia.

      link to: Writing out answers will show gaps in knowledge Performing actions will show gaps in knowledge

    1. it is valuable to turnto the work of Bernard Stiegler, and specifically to his idea of‘tertiary memory’. Stiegler develops this concept of tertiary memorythrough a reading of Husserl, and proposes it as a supplement (andcorrective) to Husserl’s understanding of primary and secondaryretention.

      These two should be interesting to read on memory and how they delineate its various layers.

      See: Stiegler, B. (2009) Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation. Trans. S. Barker. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    2. QuotingFriedrich Kittler, Thorn explains that the aim of such an all-encompassing approach to media is to focus on the ‘networks oftechnologies and institutions that allow a given culture to select,store, and process relevant data’ (cited in Thorn, 2008: 7).

      Has media studies looked at primary orality and the ideas of space repetition, art, dance, and mnemonics as base layers of media by which cultures created networks of knowledge and culture that they might use to select, store, process, copy, and pass along their knowledge?

    1. Printing made books affordable to greater numbers than before, as various humanist observers noted, whether they felt this was for the better (Andrea de Bussi, Ludovico Carbone) or for the worse (e.g., Hieronymo Squarcia- fico).17

      Example that every new technology will have its proponents and its detractors.

      link to Plato/Socrates on the use of writing as a replacement for speaking and memory.

    1. same with our with the with the dendrites we will always tell you the story tell the story to the juvenile who's coming through the novices who's coming through the ceremony will tell them so as they 00:47:47 get to a certain age or a certain time or a certain experience in the ceremony we will then pass that knowledge onto him and we'll take it to him so these hieroglyphs and 00:47:58 petroglyphs and the etchings on the rocks and the paintings on there on the cave walls that's our library that is our library

      The dendroglyphs (markings on trees) or the petroglyphs (markings on stone in the stony territories) are the libraries of the indigenous peoples who always relate their stories from the markings back up to the sky.

      via Uncle Ghillar Michael Anderson


      Can this be linked to the practices of the Druids who may have had similar methods? How about linking the petroglyphs in the Celtic (English) countryside?

    2. and of course the white fellas learned very quickly because they learned from the romans the british learned from iran and the first thing you attack other people from religious beliefs 00:46:28 that's the first thing you've done back in those days we didn't have towers communication so you didn't target your communication towers but you communicate you you attacked the way people transmitted 00:46:41 their knowledge

      The white fellas learned very quickly from the Romans that the first thing you attack is other people's religious beliefs, which are the modern day equivalent of communication towers. That's how oral societies communicate their knowledge and culture.

      via Uncle Ghillar Michael Anderson

    1. I believe we serve our students better by helping them find a note-taking system that works best for them.

      Are there other methods of encouraging context shifts that don't include note taking (or literacy-based) solutions? What would an orality focused method look like? How might we include those methods in our practices?

  4. Mar 2022
    1. For Aboriginal Australians,its importance is recognised by its position at the centre of thenational Aboriginal flag, developed in 1971 by Luritja artist HaroldThomas.

      The Aboriginal flag was developed in 1971 by Luritja artist Harold Thomas. Centering its importance to Aboriginal Australians, the sun appears in the middle of the flag.


      It's subtle here, as in other instances, but notice that Hamacher gives the citation to the Indigenous artist that developed the flag and simultaneously underlines the source of visual information that is associated with the flag and the sun. It's not just the knowledge of the two things which are associated to each other, but they're also both associated with a person who is that source of knowledge.

      Is this three-way association common in all Indigenous cultures? While names may be tricky for some, the visual image of a particular person's face, body, and presence is usually very memorable and thereby easy to attach to various forms of knowledge.

      Does the person/source of knowledge form or act like an 'oral folder' for Indigenous knowledge?

    2. The idea that ‘everything onEarth is reflected in the sky’ and of ‘reading the stars’ to understandyour environment are two of the most common and widespreadthemes in Indigenous astronomy.

      Hidden in the phrase that "everything on Earth is reflected in the sky" or the idea of "reading the stars to understand one's environment" is the idea of associative memory. If you know one thing, you necessarily know another. Don't let this subtle idea of the words 'reflect' or 'read' hide what is going on.

    3. Peter Eseli of Mabuiag Island (known locally as Mabuyag)in the western Torres Strait began writing down traditional knowledgein the Kala Lagau Ya language in the early twentieth century. By1939, Eseli had amassed a 77-page manuscript, complete withdrawings, songs and genealogies as well as a wealth of starknowledge, some of which is included in this book. He continuedadding to it until his death in 1958. His manuscript was latertranslated into English.
    4. In 1898, Māori man Te Kōkau and his son, Rāwairi Te Kōkau,began recording traditional star knowledge in the Māori language.After 35 years, they had amassed a 400-page manuscript that

      contained over a thousand star names. Rāwairi passed the manuscript to his grandson, Timi Rāwairi. In 1995, Timi’s own grandson asked him about Matariki, a celebration that kicks off the Māori new year, heralded by the dawn rising of the Pleiades star cluster. Timi went to a cupboard, pulled out the manuscript and handed it to his grandson, Rangi Mātāmua.

      Was it partially coincidence that this knowledge was written down and passed on within the family or because of the primacy of the knowledge within the culture that helped to save in spanning from orality into literacy?

      What other examples might exist along these lines to provide evidence for the passing of knowledge at the border of orality and literacy?

      Link this to ideas about the border of orality and literacy in Welsh and Irish.

    5. The stars also give meaning to our existence. The sky is a canvasof sparkling dots that we connect to form familiar patterns, to whichwe assign narratives about their formation and meaning. Across thesky, ancestors, heroic figures, animals, landscapes and fantasticbeasts tell stories of the human experience. They speak of braveryand deceit, war and peace, sex and violence, punishment andreward. It is fascinating to find striking similarities in stories about thestars across vastly different cultures, with even more similarities in theways they are utilised.

      Are these graphic and memorable stories strikingly similar because of the underlying packages of orality and memory used in these cultures?

      This is one of my primary motivations for reading this text.

    6. Indigenous sciences are highly interconnected, while Westernscience tends to be divided into different categories by discipline, witheach diverging into ever smaller focus areas.

      Indigenous sciences are highly interconnected while Western sciences tend to be highly sub-divided into ever smaller specializations.


      Are Indigenous sciences naturally interconnected or do they form that way because of the associative memory underlying the cultural orality by which they are formed and transmitted? (I would suspect so, but don't yet have the experience to say definitively. Evidence for this should be collected.)

    7. Indigenous scholars conducting scientific research combine formalacademic training and a personal lived experience that bridgesIndigenous and Western ways of knowing. In the United States andCanada, this concept is called Etuaptmumk, meaning ‘Two-EyedSeeing’. Etuaptmumk comes from the Mi’kmaw language of easternCanada and Maine, and was developed by Elders Dr Albert Marshalland Murdina Marshall.

      Developed by Elders Dr. Albert Marshall and Murdina Marshall, the Mi'kmaw word Etuaptmunk describes the concept of "Two-Eyed Seeing". It is based on the lived experience of Indigenous peoples who have the ability to see the world from both the Western and Indigenous perspectives with one eye on the strengths of each practice.


      The idea behind Etuaptmunk is designed and geared toward Western thinkers who place additional value on the eyes and literacy. Perhaps a second analogy of "Two-Eared Hearing" might better center the orality techniques for the smaller number of people with lived experiences coming from the other direction?

      These ideas seem somewhat similar to that of the third culture kid.

    8. ‘Yes, ofcourse we have science! We’ve been saying that for years, but noone will listen.’

      No one has listened to Indigenous peoples when they say that they have science. The major boundary in hearing in this case is that Indigenous peoples rely on orality where as Western people rely more heavily on literacy. This barrier has obviously been a major gap between these cultures.

    9. Science is something anyone can do, and everyone has done. Theprocess on paper is simple: closely observe the world, test what you learn,and transmit it to future generations. Just because Indigenous cultureshave done this without test tubes doesn’t make them unscientific—justdifferent.

      Perhaps there's a clever dig here that she uses the phrase "on paper" here because most indigenous cultures have done these things orally!

      quote from Dr. Annette S. Lee

    10. Ghillar Michael Anderson, John Barsa, David Bosun, RonDay, Segar Passi and Alo Tapim

      Without these authors and their knowledge and the prior knowledge chain of all their ancestors, this book would certainly not exist.

    1. Topic A topic was once a spot not a subjecttopic. to ̆p’ı ̆k. n. 1. The subject of a speech, essay, thesis, or discourse. 2. A subject of discussion or con-versation. 3. A subdivision of a theme, thesis, or outline.*With no teleprompter, index cards, or even sheets of paper at their disposal, ancient Greek and Roman orators often had to rely on their memories for holding a great deal of information. Given the limi-tations of memory, the points they chose to make had to be clustered in some meaningful way. A popular and quite reliable method for remembering information was known as loci (see Chapter 9), where loci was Latin for “place.” It involved picking a house you knew well, imagining it in your mind’s eye, and then associating the facts you wanted to recall with specifi c places inside of that house. Using this method, a skillful orator could mentally fi ll up numerous houses with the ideas he needed to recall and then simply “visit” them whenever he spoke about a particular subject. The clusters of informa-tion that speakers used routinely came to be known as commonplaces, loci communes in Latin and koinos topos in Greek. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle referred to them simply as topos, meaning “places.” And that’s how we came to use topic to refer to subject or grouping of information.**

      Even in the western tradition, the earliest methods of mnemonics tied ideas to locations, from whence we get the ideas of loci communes (in Latin) and thence commonplaces and commonplace books. The idea of loci communes was koinos topos in Greek from whence we have derived the word 'topic'.

      Was this a carryover from other local oral traditions or a new innovation? Given the prevalence of very similar Indigenous methods around the world, it was assuredly not an innovation. Perhaps it was a rediscovery after the loss of some of these traditions locally in societies that were less reliant on orality and moving towards more reliance on literacy for their memories.

    1. Investigate further into issues of semiotic theory and dance/music

      This sounds like the sort of place where one might apply Walter Ong's work on orality or Lynne Kelly and Margo Neale's Songlines (Thames & Hudson, 2021).

    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_circle

      Some timber circle sites to look into: - Secotan in North Carolina circa 1585 - Poverty Point - Hopewell timber circles (Moorehead Circle and Stubbs Earthworks) in Ohio - Cahokia

    2. An early example of a timber circle witnessed by Europeans was recorded by watercolor artist John White in July 1585 when he visited the Algonquian village of Secotan in North Carolina. White was the artist-illustrator and mapmaker for the Roanoke Colony expedition sent by Sir Walter Raleigh to begin the first attempts at British colonization of the Americas.[2] White's works represent the sole-surviving visual record of the native inhabitants of the Americas as encountered by England's first colonizers on the Atlantic seaboard.[3] White's watercolor and the writings of the chronicler who accompanied him, Thomas Harriot, describes a great religious festival, possibly the Green Corn ceremony, with participants holding a ceremonial dance at a timber circle. The posts of the circle were carved with faces. Harriot noted that many of the participants had come from surrounding villages and that "every man attyred in the most strange fashion they can devise havinge certayne marks on the backs to declare of what place they bee." and that "Three of the fayrest Virgins" danced around a central post at the center of the timber circle.[4]

      Artist, illustrator and mapmaker John White painted a watercolor in July 1585 of a group of Native Americans in the Secotan village in North America. Both he and chronicler Thomas Harriot described a gathering of Indigenous peoples gathered in the Algonquian village as part of Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Colony expedition. They describe a festival with participants holding a dance at a timber circle, the posts of which were carved with with faces.

      Harriot wrote that participants had come from surrounding villages and that "every man attyred in the most strange fashion they can devise havinge certayne marks on the backs to declare of what place they bee."

      Secotans dancing in a timber circle in North Carolina, watercolor painted by John White in 1585


      This evidence would generally support some of Lynne Kelly's thesis in Knowledge and Power. A group of neighboring peoples gathering, possibly for the Green Corn Ceremony, ostensibly to strengthen social ties and potentially to strengthen and trade knowledge.

      Would we also see others of her list of markers in the area?

      Read references: - Daniels, Dennis F. "John White". NCpedia. Retrieved 2017-12-19. - Tucker, Abigal (December 2008). "Sketching the Earliest Views of the New World". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2017-12-19. - "A Selection of John White's Watercolors : A festive dance". Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved 2017-12-19.

    1. But crucially, he believes the pool at the center of the complex may have also served as a surface to observe and map the stars. The water surface would have mirrored the sky, as water does – none other than Leonardo da Vinci pointed out the attributes of inert standing water when studying the night sky. For one thing, the stars were adored by the Phoenicians, whether as gods or deceased ancestors; and the position of the constellations was of keen interest to the sailors among them for navigation purposes, Nigro points out.

      Lorenzo Nigro indicates that the "kothon" of Motya in southern Sicily was a pool of Baal whose surface may have been used to observe and map the stars. He also indicates that the Phoenicians adored the stars potentially as gods or deceased ancestors. This is an example of a potentially false assumption often seen in archaeology of Western practitioners misconstruing Indigenous practices based on modern ideas of religion and culture.

      I might posit that this sort of practice is more akin to that of the science of Indigenous peoples who used oral and mnemonic methods in combination with remembering their histories and ancestors.

      Cross reference this with coming reading in The First Astronomers (to come) which may treat this in more depth.


      Leonardo da Vinci documented the attributes of standing water for studying the night sky.

      Where was this and what did it actually entail?

    1. The Inca left behind a three-dimensional system, a 3D “script.”

      Silvia Ferrara analogizes the quipu to a three-dimensional "script".

    2. The Inca are most often remembered not for what they had but for what they didn’t have: the wheel, iron, a written language.

      A solid example of how western cultures dismiss non-literate cultures.

    1. S CLEAR THAT spontaneous gestures can support intelligent thinking. There’salso a place for what we might call designed gestures: that is, motions that arecarefully formulated in advance to convey a particular notion. Geologist MicheleCooke’s gestures, inspired by sign language, fall into this category; she verydeliberately uses hand movements to help students understand spatial conceptsthat are difficult to communicate in words.

      There are two potential axes for gestures: spontaneous and intentional. Intentional gestures include examples like sign language, memetic pantomimes, and dance or related animal mimicry gestures used by indigenous cultures for communicating the movement and behavior of animals.

      Intentional gestures can also be specifically designed for pedagogical purposes as well as for mnemonic purposes.

      cross reference to Lynne Kelly example about movement/gesture in indigenous cultures.

    1. “Noteson paper, or on a computer screen [...] do not make contemporaryphysics or other kinds of intellectual endeavour easier, they make itpossible” is one of the key takeaways in a contemporary handbookof neuroscientists (Levy 2011, 290) Concluding the discussions inthis book, Levy writes: “In any case, no matter how internalprocesses are implemented, insofar as thinkers are genuinelyconcerned with what enables human beings to perform the

      spectacular intellectual feats exhibited in science and other areas of systematic enquiry, as well as in the arts, they need to understand the extent to which the mind is reliant upon external scaffolding.” (Ibid.)

      Does Neil Levy go into anything on orality with respect to this topic? Check: Levy, Neil. 2011. “Neuroethics and the Extended Mind.” In Judy Illes and B. J. Sahakian (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics, 285–94, Oxford University Press

      Link this to P.M. Forni's question about how I think about mathematics and my answer relating to scaffolding or the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

      Link this to the 9/8 zettel quote from Luhmann about writing being thinking.

      Compare the ideas of visual thinking (visualizations) and a visualization of one's thinking being instantiated in writing along with the Feynman quote about the writing being the thinking. What ways are they similar or different? Is there a gradation in which one subsumes the other?

      What does Annie Murphy Paul have to say on this topic in The Extended Mind?

  5. Feb 2022
    1. Also, we shouldn’t underestimate the advantages of writing. In oralpresentations, we easily get away with unfounded claims. We candistract from argumentative gaps with confident gestures or drop acasual “you know what I mean” irrespective of whether we knowwhat we meant. In writing, these manoeuvres are a little too obvious.It is easy to check a statement like: “But that is what I said!” Themost important advantage of writing is that it helps us to confrontourselves when we do not understand something as well as wewould like to believe.

      In modern literate contexts, it is easier to establish doubletalk in oral contexts than it is in written contexts as the written is more easily reviewed for clarity and concreteness. Verbal ticks like "you know what I mean", "it's easy to see/show", and other versions of similar hand-waving arguments that indicate gaps in thinking and arguments are far easier to identify in writing than they are in speech where social pressure may cause the audience to agree without actually following the thread of the argument. Writing certainly allows for timeshiting, but it explicitly also expands time frames for grasping and understanding a full argument in a way not commonly seen in oral settings.

      Note that this may not be the case in primarily oral cultures which may take specific steps to mitigate these patterns.

      Link this to the anthropology example from Scott M. Lacy of the (Malian?) tribe that made group decisions by repeating a statement from the lowest to the highest and back again to ensure understanding and agreement.


      This difference in communication between oral and literate is one which leaders can take advantage of in leading their followers astray. An example is Donald Trump who actively eschewed written communication or even reading in general in favor of oral and highly emotional speech. This generally freed him from the need to make coherent and useful arguments.

    2. There is no such thing as a history ofunwritten ideas.

      This is patently false since there are definitely counterexamples within a huge variety of oral cultures.

    3. We need a reliable and simple external structure tothink in that compensates for the limitations of our brains

      Let's be honest that there are certainly methods for doing all of this within our brains and not needing to rely on external structures. This being said, using writing, literacy, and external structures does allow us to process things faster than before.


      Can we calculate what the level of greater efficiency allows for doing this? What is the overall throughput difference in being able to forget and write? Not rely on communication with others? What does a back of the envelope calculation for this look like?

    4. Every intellectual endeavour starts with a note.

      I like the framing of the idea that "Every intellectual endeavour starts with a note." as the idea of a note could potentially transcend literacy to include oral cultures as well.

    1. Because of the constantly growing number of volumes, and to minimize coordination issues, Gottfried van Swieten emphasizes a set of instructions for registering all the books of the court library. Written instructions are by no means common prior to the end of the eighteenth century. Until then, cataloging takes place under the supervision of a librarian who instructs scriptors orally, pointing out problems and corrections as every-one goes along.

      Unlike prior (oral) efforts, Gottfried van Swieten created a writtten set of instructions for cataloging texts at the Austrian National Library. This helped to minimize coordination issues as well as time to teach and perfect the system.


      Written rules, laws, and algorithms help to create self-organization. This is done by saving time and energy that would have gone into the work of directed building of a system instead. The saved work can then be directed towards something else potentially more productive or regenerative.

  6. Jan 2022
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sciwtWcfdH4

      UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity - 2012 URL: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/klapa-multipart-singing-of-dalmatia-southern-croatia-00746 Description: Klapa singing is a multipart singing tradition of Dalmatia. Multipart singing, a capella homophonic singing, oral tradition and simple music making are its main features. The leader of each singing group is the first tenor, followed by several tenori, baritoni and basi voices. During performances, the singers stand in a tight semicircle, and the first tenor starts the singing, followed by the others. The aim is to achieve the best possible blend of voices. Klapa songs deal with love, life situations, and the local environment. Country(ies): Croatia

    1. “One cannot think without writing.” (Luhmann 1992, 53)

      Similar statements have been made by others:

      I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."—Manfred Kuehn

      I think this was Luhmann's full quote:

      Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      (Translation) You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way.

      Luhmann’s “you” or "one" in his quote is obviously only a Western cultural referent which erases the existence of oral based cultures which have other ways to do their sophisticated thinking. His ignorant framing on the topic shouldn’t be a shared one. Oral cultures managed to do their thinking through speech and memory.

    1. I could quote Luhmann on this as well, who thought that "without writing one cannot think," But there is nothing peculiarly "Luhmannian" about this idea. Isaac Asimov is said to have said "Writing to me is simply thinking through my fingers." And, to give one other example, E. B. White (of "Strunk and White" fame) claimed that "writing is one way to go about thinking." In other words, writing is thinking. And since I do almost all my significant writing in ConnectedText these days, it might be called my "writing environment."

      Various quotes along the lines of "writing is thinking".

      What is the equivalent in oral societies? Memory is thinking?

    1. in Luhmann’s mind theprocess of writing things down enables disciplined thinking in the first place: “Underlying the filing tech-nique is the experience that without writing, there is no thinking.”22
      1. Luhmann, Zettelkasten II, index card no. 9/8g (my translation).

      The act of taking notes helps to focus the mind and one's concentration. This facilitates better and deeper thinking. While he erases oral cultures and those who used mnemonic techniques, Niklas Luhmann said, "without writing, there is no thinking."

    1. culture that taught to learn by rote and a culture that taught to forget instead

      Pedagogical cultrues:

      • cultures taught orally
      • cultures taught to remember
      • cultures taught to learn by rote
      • cultures taught to forget

      Is there a (linear) progression? How do they differ? How are they they same? Is there a 1-1 process that allows them to be equivalence classes?

    1. How could such rhetorical facility have come to those with noawareness of the works of Varro and Quintilian?

      Jesuit missionaries during the Englightement were impressed with the level of rhetoric and argument that the indigenous Americans had without recourse to western rhetoric.

    2. Severi (2015) discusses evidence for the use of pictographicwriting systems among the indigenous peoples of NorthAmerica, and why their characterization as ‘oral’ societies ismisleading in many ways.
    1. reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written.

      Nice to see him pay some homage to orality here.

  7. Dec 2021
    1. It is impossible to think without writing; at least it is impossible in any sophisticated or networked (anschlußfähig) fashion.

      The sentiment that it is impossible to think without writing is patently wrong. While it's an excellent tool, it takes an overly textual perspective and completely ignores the value of orality an memory in prehistory.

      Modern culture has lost so many of our valuable cultural resources that we have completely forgotten that they even existed.

      Oral cultures certainly had networked thought, Luhmann and others simply can't imagine how it may have worked. We're also blinded by the imagined size of societies in pre-agricultural contexts. The size and scope of cities and city networks makes the history of writing have an outsized appearance.

      Further, we don't have solid records of these older netowrks, a major drawback of oral cultures which aren't properly maintained, but this doesn't mean that they didn not exist.

    1. Pratt persuaded tribal elders and chiefs that the reason the "Washichu" (Lakota word for white man, loosely translates to Takes the Fat) had been able to take their land was that the Indians were uneducated. He said that the Natives were disadvantaged by being unable to speak and write English and, if they had that knowledge, they might have been able to protect themselves.

      Example where literacy provides perceived power over orality.

    1. But we often find such regional networks developinglargely for the sake of creating friendly mutual relations, or having anexcuse to visit one another from time to time;33 and there are plentyof other possibilities that in no way resemble ‘trade’.

      There is certainly social lubrication of visiting people from time to time which can help and advance societies, but this regular visiting can also be seen as a means of reinforcing one's oral cultural history through spaced repetition.

      It can be seen as "trade" but in a way that anthropologists have generally ignored for lack of imagination for what may have been actually happening.

    2. Romito 2 is the 10,000-year-old burial of a male with a raregenetic disorder (acromesomelic dysplasia): a severe type ofdwarfism, which in life would have rendered him both anomalous inhis community and unable to participate in the kind of high-altitudehunting that was necessary for their survival. Studies of hispathology show that, despite generally poor levels of health andnutrition, that same community of hunter-gatherers still took pains tosupport this individual through infancy and into early adulthood,granting him the same share of meat as everyone else, andultimately according him a careful, sheltered burial.15
      1. Tilley, Lorna. 2015. ‘Accommodating difference in the prehistoric past: revisiting the case of Romito 2 from a bioarchaeology of care perspective.’ International Journal of Paleopathology 8: 64–74.

      In a case like this what might have been the reasons for keeping and helping such an individual?

      In an oral society, it's possible that despite his potential physical disabilities for hunting that he may have been an above-average store of knowledge from a memory perspective, thus making him potentially even more valuable to his society.

    1. political self-consciousness sort of 00:55:29 receding as one goes further back in time there was a book published in 1946 by the Dutch archaeologist Henry Frank Ford's called befall philosophy which 00:55:42 was about the the ancient Middle East Mesopotamia and Egypt and all that sort of thing but he wasn't actually arguing that these people didn't have the capacity for philosophy he was simply 00:55:55 pointing out that they didn't have an explicit written tradition of speculative thought like that of the ancient Greeks so that when they did speculate they did it in other ways 00:56:07 through images through discourse on the nonhuman world etc etc to find the idea that there have actually ever been individuals who didn't possess any capacity for philosophical reflection

      Henri Frankfort in The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man (1946) (later retitled Before Philosophy) argued that non-literate people had philosophy and speculative thought, they just didn't have a written method of expressing it.

      Open questions: How might they have expressed it other than orally? How might one tease these ideas out of the archaeological record? Does Frankfort provide evidence?

    2. there's an exception ah yes indeed there is an exception to that which is largely 00:08:28 when you're talking to someone else so in conversation and in dialogue you're actually can maintain consciousness for very long periods of time well which is why you need to imagine you're talking 00:08:41 to someone else to really be able to think out a problem

      Humans in general have a seven second window of self-consciousness. (What is the reference for this? Double check it.) The exception is when one is in conversation with someone else, and then people have much longer spans of self-consciousness.

      I'm left to wonder if this is a useful fact for writing in the margins in books or into one's notebook, commonplace book, or zettelkasten? By having a conversation with yourself, or more specifically with the imaginary author you're annotating or if you prefer to frame it as a conversation with your zettelkasten, one expands their self-consciousness for much longer periods of time? What benefit does this have for the individual? What benefit for humanity in aggregate?

      Is it this fact or just coincidence that much early philosophy was done as dialectic?

      From an orality perspective, this makes it much more useful to talk to one's surroundings or objects like rocks. Did mnemonic techniques help give rise to our ability to be more self-conscious as a species? Is it like a muscle that we've been slowly and evolutionarily exercising for 250,000 years?

    1. https://www.landesmuseum.ch/en/exhibitions/temporary/2021/humans.-carved-in-stone/humans.-carved-in-stone

      Worth delving into more deeply for additional sources and archaeological evidence.

    2. But the stelae were also symbols of power and status, and were used for ancestor worship and rituals.

      This is a good example of the default "ancestor worship" and "rituals" label on archeological finds of ancient peoples

      What is the actual basis for assigning these labels? Is there any real evidence or is it just become the default in the literature.

      Personally I'm building evidence towards a more comprehensive thesis for what these practices may have been used for.

    1. The “agricultural revolution,” so the mainstream argument goes, was a double-edged sword – it triggered the big leap in human civilisation which brought us writing, culture, history all things that make humans “special;” but it also led to hierarchy, organised power, bureaucracy, and inequality. Graeber and Wengrow had been suspicious about this narrative for a long time – they did not believe in this evolutionary, progressive, and deterministic parable.

      Focusing on literacy as one of the features that makes humanity special is a major flaw. In fact, it is likely our earlier orality and the attendant portions that come with that which made us unique within the animal kingdom. While transmission of knowledge and information may be quicker with literacy and even with computer technology, our ability to cope with it stems first from our orality.

    1. When the user stores his thoughts in his own filing cabinet, these thoughts are no longer his own but those of his filing cabinet. In turn, the machine that gathers and reproduces excerpts is, and remains, a ‘black box’. It is not simply another Ego for enacting a user’s soliloquy but a true Alter Ego with whom the user communicates. Additionally, when the machine is started, the user does not simply refresh his memory; the filing cabinet actually speaks. To achieve this practical outcome, the card index must be provided with a ‘life of its own’ (Eigenleben) which should be as independent of the life of its educator as possible.30 In this sense, the card index functions as a ‘secondary memory’ in Stübel’s terms. This result raises some questions which justify the present article. Is there a socio-structural reason why such an improbability became possible? Is there a trend, in early and late modern society, toward an externalization and technologizing of social memory? And what insight can we gain into intellectual history?

      I'm not completely sure I can agree with this. Perhaps I'm missing part of his point?

      There is a quirky relationship here to the idea of a personbyte, the complete amount of information and knowledge a person can have. Even misty memories that a person can remember or be reminded of are part of this knowledge. Perfect recall isn't necessary as some things can potentially be reconstituted with some thought towards recreation of an idea.

      Compare this with the idea of epic poetry and song of the Yugoslavian guslars. Some may be more artful than others, but at what point are they telling a new story?

    2. In oral societies, personal memories fade and even-tually disappear, and yet knowledge somehow remains, as does language. Con-sequently, social memory arises outside, but not independently of, individual psychic systems; it may be regarded as the recursive outcome of communica-tions that are operatively reproduced inside social systems.14

      This idea of transmission of knowledge within oral societies is worth exploring. What is the media of transmission? How does it work in comparison with literate societies? What is the overlap in the two Venn Diagrams?

    1. Our local personnel are Vesna Wallace and Cathy and myself, while our international partners and consultants include Janet Gyatso, Sarah Jacoby, Matthew Kapstein, Jonathan Silk, Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin, and Antonio Terrone. Part of the project is simply to minutely track all the processes, over several generations, that gave us some of the terma literature we know so well today, while another part will be to achieve critically-aware knowledge transfers from Hebrew studies and the English medievalists into Tibetology. Through this, we aspire to help catalyse a broader debate on what authorship really means in Tibetan religious writing as a whole, in other genres beyond terma, so that our analysis might contribute to the understanding of Tibetan religious writings as a whole.

      Researchers looking into the ideas of inventio with respect to Tibetan religious literature...

      This was published in 2010, so it should have some resultant articles worth reading with respect to their work. I'm curious to compare it to the work of Parry & Lord.

    2. I invited Jonathan Silk to give a guest lecture, and aware of my interests, he obliged by delivering a wonderful paper entitled What Can Students of Indian Buddhist Literature Learn from Biblical Text Criticism?
    3. At the most elemental level, these building blocks comprise well established fundamental Dharmic categories, such as ‘The Three Jewels’, ‘The Four Activities’, ‘The Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities’, and so on. Some Hebraists call such fundamental categories ‘lemmata’.

      Hebraists call small fundamental building blocks of knowledge "lemmata". They are simple and easily remembered.

    4. Finally, a complete work, such as the Guhyasamāja Tantra, or a commentary upon it, is called a ‘macroform’. The way such literary constructions are put together resembles an ‘anthological’ model: tradents select existing lemmata and microforms and re-anthologise them to make new wholes.

      Macroforms are the literary constructions which we might consider anthologies composed of smaller building blocks of lemmata and microforms. These smaller forms are rhetorically built up into larger forms to make "new" literary works or commentaries on prior works.

      These can be compared to Western rhetorical traditions going back to Seneca the Younger in Epistulae morales

      "We should follow, men say, the example of the bees, who flit about and cull the flowers that are suitable for producing honey, and then arrange and assort in their cells all that they have brought in; these bees, as our Vergil says, 'pack close the flowering honey | And swell their cells with nectar sweet.' "

      He's essentially saying, read the best, take their thoughts and ideas, consume them, make them your own."

      Generations later in ~430 CE, Macrobius in his Saturnalia repeated the same idea and even analogy (he assuredly read Seneca, though he obviously didn't acknowledge him):

      "You should not count it a fault if I shall set out the borrowings from a miscellaneous reading in the authors' own words... sometimes set out plainly in my own words and sometimes faithfully recorded in the actual words of the old writers... We ought in some sort to imitate bees; and just as they, in their wandering to and fro, sip the flowers, then arrange their spoil and distribute it among the honeycombs, and transform the various juices to a single flavor by some mixing with them a property of their own being, so I too shall put into writing all that I have acquired in the varied course of my reading... For not only does arrangement help the memory, but the actual process of arrangement, accompanied by a kind of mental fermentation which serves to season the whole, blends the diverse extracts to make a single flavor; with the result that, even if the sources are evident, what we get in the end is still something clearly different from those known sources."

      (cross reference: https://hyp.is/mCsl9voQEeuP3t8jNOyAvw/maggieappleton.com/echo-narcissus)

    5. Longer passages, such as a paragraph or chapter comprising composites of such lemmata, are also legitimately reproducible either approximately or verbatim, according to Tibetan norms. Some Hebraists would call such reproducible composites that are not yet a complete work ‘microforms’.

      "Microforms" are combinations of lemmata which could often be reproduced verbatim, but are longer and similar to our modern ideas of paragraphs or even a chapter.

    6. Talmudic scholars no longer depend on the conventional modernist language of ‘authorship’ and ‘work’. Instead, they can speak of ‘tradents’, who  ‘re-anthologise’ existing ‘lemmata’ and ‘microforms’, sometimes anonymously, within the context of a culture of extraordinary textual memorisation and the ubiquitous synchronous interactions of written and oral modes of text.  We have a lot to learn from them, because Tibetan religious literature is in some important respects closer to Medieval Hebraic literature than to modern literature.

      The idea of tradents, authors who re-anthologize prior work and scholarship, explicitly without attribution of authorship, is incredibly similar to the ideas behind oral mnemonic traditions seen in Greek epic poetry and Yugoslavian guslars as discovered by Milman Parry.

    7. Much is also recycled, within a literary culture that normatively envisions contributors as tradents rather than innovators: in other words, the person producing a text sees himself as passing on existing knowledge, rather than creating new knowledge from nothing (I will elaborate further on the term tradent below).

      Tradents in Tibetan religious literature often copied unattributed texts forward and backward in time without attribution. They often weren't inventing new material, but copying it forward.

      This seems incredibly similar to the traditions of oral cultures as explored by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the work on orality which was followed up by Walter Ong and others. Examples include the poets known as Homer in the Greek Tradition and the guslars of Yugoslavia.

    8. Texts can be substantially modified by other hands in subsequent re-publications, even while still retaining their original authorial (or revelatory) attribution. At other times, modification can be generated silently and less deliberately via the subtly transformative medium of memorisation: we must recall that Tibetan scholars carry huge tracts of literature around in their minds, which they can access instantly without recourse to a written book, but sometimes it comes out in a form ever so slightly different from other or previous iterations. I think one can even say that the Buddhist tradition often understands authorial attributions as a conventional shorthand indicating the accepted presiding spiritual authority in a given literary instance, rather than as the sole or exclusive literary agency that created it.

      Tibetan literature seems to exhibit strong signs of a prior oral tradition despite having the technology of literacy. Tibetan scholars have memorized huge amounts of literature, but when written down it can vary slightly from other versions.

  8. Nov 2021
    1. Our elders say that ceremonies are the way we “remember to remember,”

      The Western word "ceremony" is certainly not the best word for describing these traditions. It has too much baggage and hidden meaning with religious overtones. It's a close-enough word to convey some meaning to those who don't have the cultural background to understand the underlying orality and memory culture. It is one of those words that gets "lost in translation" because of the dramatic differences in culture and contextual collapse.

      Most Western-based anthropology presumes a Western idea of "religion" and impinges it upon oral cultures. I would maintain that what we would call their "religion" is really an oral-based mnemonic tradition that creates the power of their culture through knowledge. The West mistakes this for superstitious religious practices, but primarily because we can't see (or have never been shown) the larger structures behind what is going on. Our hubris and lack of respect (the evils of the scala naturae) has prevented us from listening and gaining entrance to this knowledge.

      I think that the archaeological ideas of cultish practices or ritual and religion are all more likely better viewed as oral practices of mnemonic tradition. To see this more easily compare the Western idea of the memory palace with the Australian indigenous idea of songline.

    1. In the early 1930s, Milman Parry, a professor of Classics at Harvard, sought to test his theories regarding the composition of the Homeric poems by observing living traditions of oral poetry in then-Yugoslavia.

      The songs he collected, on phonograph discs and in notebooks, form the core of the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature.

      In addition to being one of the world’s most comprehensive archives of South Slavic oral traditions, the Parry Collection also contains uniquely important subsidiary collections documenting numerous other Balkan oral traditions. These include:

      • the collection of Albanian epics gathered by Albert Lord in the mountains of northern Albania in the fall of 1937;
      • Lord’s own collection of South Slavic materials made in 1950 and 1951, including some recordings of singers Lord had met in the company of Parry in the 1930s;
      • the Whitman-Rinvolucri Collection, which contains a variety of materials relating to the Greek tradition of shadow puppet theater as practiced in the 1960s;
      • and the James A. Notopoulos Collection, which includes hundreds of recordings from the 1950s of folk music and narrative poetry from the Greek mainland and the Greek islands.
    1. While the advent of printing is commonly thought to have resulted in the demise of the manuscript, Bouza upholds that the progress of textual culture in all its forms did not undermine the importance of other mediums of knowledge.

      What sorts of forms does this take?

      It's obviously true from a cultural perspective, but it's much more difficult to do this from a historical perspective for things which happened 2000 years ago, for example.

    2. Seeking to address the reductive opposition both between written and oral texts and between script and print in the Early Modern period, Fernando Bouza, one of Spain's most influential cultural historians, makes an elegant case for the equality and complementary natures of the various modes of communication.

      This may prove an interesting perspective given my own desire to explore some of the same sorts of dynamics in Celtic texts at the border of orality and literacy in the early centuries of the common era.

    1. from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-givingsoil.

      Odysseus staggered from the river and lay down again in the rushes and kissed the grain-giving soil.

      This reference to "grain-giving soil" reminds me of this quote:

      History celebrates the battlefields whereon we meet our death, but scorns to speak of the ploughed fields whereby we thrive; it knows the names of king's bastards, but cannot tell us the origin of wheat. That is the way of human folly.<br/>—Les Merveilles de l'Instinct Chez les Insectes: Morceaux Choisis (The Wonders of Instinct in Insects: Selected Pieces) by Jean-Henri FabreJean-Henri Fabre (Librairie Ch. Delagrave (1913), page 242)

      ref: quote

      Culturally we often see people kneeling down and kissing the ground after long travels, but we miss the prior references and images and the underlying gratitude for why these things have become commonplace.

      "Grain-giving" = "life giving" here specifically. Compare this to modern audiences see the kissing of the ground more as a psychological "homecoming" action and the link to the grain is missing.

      It's possible that the phrase grain-giving was included for orality's sake to make the meter, but I would suggest that given the value of grain within the culture the poet would have figured out how to include this in any case.

      By my count "grain-giving" as a modifier variously to farmland, soil, earth, land, ground, and corn land appears eight times in the text. All these final words have similar meanings. I wonder if Lattimore used poetic license to change the translation of these final words or if they were all slightly different in the Greek, but kept the meter?

      This is an example of a phrase which may have been given an underlying common phrasing in daily life to highlight gratitude for the life giving qualities, but also served the bard's needs for maintaining meter. Perhaps comparing with other contemporaneous texts for this will reveal an answer?

    2. It may seem unreasonable to distinguish the Great Wanderings (Troy toKalypso's island) from the Homecoming (Kalypso's island to Ithaka). The reasonfor the distinction is Homer's way of recounting these two stages. The GreatWanderings are told by Odysseus in the first person; the Homecoming by thepoet in his own person. This makes a great difference. For instance, whenOdysseus is made to report divine intervention unseen by him, he has to find aplausible explanation (xii.389-390); when the poet tells the story in his ownperson, he can do as he pleases. Thus the change of technique, if nothing else,puts the two stages of wandering on different levels.

      Interesting to note this shift in narrative style. How can one interpret this from the perspective of orality versus literacy?

    1. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/29/books/review/hearing-homers-song-milman-parry-robert-kanigel.html

      Short overview of Parry's biography. One could do better reading the Wikipedia article.

    2. There was no ancient poet called “Homer,” he argued. Nor were the poems attributed to him “written” by any single individual. Rather, they were the product of a centuries-long tradition of poet-performers.

      Are there possibly any physical artifacts in physical archaeology that may fit into the structure of the thesis made by Lynne Kelly in Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies?

      What would we be looking for? Small mnemonic devices? Menhir? Standing stones? Wooden or stone circles? Other examples of extended ekphrasis similar to that of the shield of Achilles?

      cf: Expanding Ekphrasis to the Broader Field of Mnemotechny: or How the Shield of Achilles Relates to a Towel, Car, and Water Buffalo

    1. How can these modern translations and related translations be compared and contrasted to the original passage of the stories in their original bardic traditions?

      Cross reference the orality work of Milman Parry, et al.

    1. One seventeenth-century teacher concluded thatnote taking must have been practiced even by the followers of thepriscasapientiafamous for their reliance on memory and their contempt of writ-ing: “How else would their writings survive to us?

      However from examples in oral cultures we know that there are other mnemonic traditions which allow the preservation of knowledge.

      cross-reference: Lynne Kelly, Knowledge and Power

    2. wn oral cultures the sorting function canbe performedW for exampleW by integration into a narrative Sstorytelling orbardic poetryTY

      The sorting function is also done by mental links from one space to another similar to the method of loci in Western culture. cross reference the idea of songlines

    3. ́herange of storage media operative in different historical contexts includesthe marked stone tokenW the clay tabletW the knotted cord or quipuW the paX

      pyrus scroll and the sheet of parchment.

      Which others is she missing from a mnemonics perspective? I'm impressed that she indicates the khipu, but there are certainly other indigenous methods from oral cultures.

  9. Sep 2021
    1. Our efforts at education and training, as well as management and leadership, are aimed principally at promoting brain-bound thinking.

      In many areas of human life including education and business, we limit ourselves too heavily by too exclusively promoting and preferring brain-bound thinking. If we could begin to re-center our external thinking as many oral and indigenous cultures have, we might be able to go further and farther.

    1. Ratson and Ben-Dov found that the scroll lays out the most important dates in the Qumran sect’s 364-day calendar, including the festivals of New Wine and New Oil, which are not mentioned in the Bible. It also reveals for the first time the name given to the special days on which the sect would celebrate the transition between seasons, four times a year. The days were referred to as “Tekufah”, which translates as “period”.

      Given their focus on dates and calendars, what other evidence of mnemonic traditions might we draw from a culture that was likely near the transition from oral to written transmission?

      Would they have had standing stones, stone circles, handheld mnemonic devices?

  10. Aug 2021
    1. John Wesley Powell (1834–1902)

      Campaigner for Native American rights.

      Set up Bureau of American Ethnology.

      Recommended setting up reservations for indigenous people in America.

      Recorded tribal oral histories.

      Recruited Cyrus Thomas who proved that the moundbuilder race hadn't existed, but they were erected by ancestors of modern Native Americans.

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    Annotators

  11. Jul 2021
    1. The Activity and Art of Reading 15 If you ask a living teacher a question, he will probably answer you. If you are puzzled by what he says, you can save yourself the trouble of thinking by asking him what he means. If, however, you ask a book a question, you must answer it yourself.

      What effect might this have on the learning process of purely oral cultures?

    1. "The earlier systems of writing were extremely difficult to learn," says Schwartz, the Whiting Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. "There were thousands of symbols used in very complicated ways, which meant that only a very small group of people could ever learn how to write or read. With the invention of the alphabet, it meant that a much larger number of people could, in theory, learn how to read and write. And so it ultimately led to the democratization of writing. And of course it is the system that all Western European writing systems used because Greeks, who borrowed the Semitic alphabetic system, then used it to write their own language."

      Early writing systems used thousands of symbols and were thus incredibly complex and required heavy memorization. This may have been easier with earlier mnemonic systems in oral (pre-literate societies), but would have still required work.

      The innovation of a smaller alphabetic set would have dramatically decreased the cognitive load of massive memorization and made it easier for people to become literate at scale.

    1. Ohne zu schreiben, kann man nicht denken; jedenfalls nicht in anspruchsvoller, anschlussfähiger Weise.

      You cannot think without writing; at least not in a sophisticated, connectable way. —Niklas Luhmann

      (Source of the original??)

      This is interesting, but is also ignorant of oral traditions which had means of addressing it.

  12. Jun 2021
    1. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates bemoaned the development of writing. He feared that, as people came to rely on the written word as a substitute for the knowledge they used to carry inside their heads, they would, in the words of one of the dialogue’s characters, “cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful.” And because they would be able to “receive a quantity of information without proper instruction,” they would “be thought very knowledgeable when they are for the most part quite ignorant.” They would be “filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom.” Socrates wasn’t wrong—the new technology did often have the effects he feared—but he was shortsighted. He couldn’t foresee the many ways that writing and reading would serve to spread information, spur fresh ideas, and expand human knowledge (if not wisdom).

      I feel like Western culture has lost so much of our memory traditions that this trite story, which I've seen often repeated, doesn't have the weight it should.

      Why can't we simultaneously have the old system AND the new? Lynne Kelly and Margo Neale touch on this in their coinage of the third archive in Songlines.

    1. Lynne Kelly's observation that oral cultures revised useful knowledge into their memories appears to me to be a simple precursor to annotation and the idea of the scientific method all in one...

    2. Scholars are likely familiar with the so-called “Great Conversation,” or the idea in Western thought that we collectively participate in an iterative process of knowledge production through reference, review, and refinement. As our conversation continues over time, an ever-expanding network of annotation–through notation, citation, links, and data–traces an interconnected lineage of ideas and insight.

      Again, Dr. Lynne Kelly discusses this sort of process in non-Western and primarily oral cultures as well. Songlines has some interesting discussion of this in the Australian aboriginal cultures.

    3. It is literally and figuratively marginal.

      There is, however, an exceptionally long tradition of moving one's annotations out of the margins and into more expansive spaces like commonplace books, zettelkasten, wikis, Memex, and digital gardens...

      This cultural thinking pattern also isn't confined by literacy either. Dr. Lynne Kelly attests the idea of the storage of ideas and their subsequent potential revision in oral cultures in Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture. One may have lost the ability to track the original ideas in time, but the (useful) oral "annotations" were aggregated into cultural knowledge over time.

  13. May 2021
    1. An overview of Milman Parry's life, work, and some of his impact on Homeric studies and orality as media.

    2. If this is so, we literati must surrender certain cherished assumptions: that litera ture is inextricably associated with reading and writing, that lack of literacy means lack of culture.

      Lack of literacy definitely does not mean lack of culture.

      Reminder to self: I've got a strong suspicion that the Hebrew bible was transmitted orally for generations prior to being written down in a similar manner. I need to collect some additional evidence to build this case. The arc of the covenant is a first potential piece of evidence.

    1. hazelfaceHazel3dAs you likely know, “back in the day” stories, poetry, and religious texts were passed down from generation to generation. My big question is “how”. Does anyone know how this was done historically? Or how you would do it yourself today? I do some verbatim memorization for fun and have a process/formula I’m comfortable with. I’m really curious what sort of procedure I could build if I was limited Thank you!

      In both older and current cultures we see stories, songs, poetry, and a variety of knowledge passed down orally. Some of these, like Homer, were eventually written out and passed down using the written word. Texts, once extant, were generally passed around by copying out or mass printing, but generally were not memorized and passed along via orality or memory techniques. Obviously there are examples of people memorizing large portions of text personally, but this has generally not been the major mode of passing knowledge from one generation to the next.

      Dr. Lynne Kelly's text book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015) does a solid job of covering some of the techniques in the archaeological and even contemporary records on this score.

      We have modern anthropologists attesting the oral methods you describe from several peoples around the world. Kelly's book, based on her Ph.D. thesis, does a good job of summarizing many of these. She and Dr. Margo Neale also recently published Songlines: The Power and Promise (Thames & Hudson, 2020) which covers current Australian Aboriginal tribes which use these oral techniques for knowledge transmission as well. The techniques do vary from culture to culture, but on the whole they tend to share many features.

      As others have mentioned, Walter Ong's work, and the book Orality and Literacy (Routledge, 1982) in particular, will provide some additional context.

      On your question of practicality, I'd recommend Kelly's book Memory Craft which currently outlines the broadest number of mnemotechniques out there and provides some advice about which methods are best/better for particular applications. Following this, if necessary, you might focus in on the methods you're interested in most and hone in on other texts, audiobooks, or posts here in the forum.

      Everyone's abilities and needs are slightly different, so experiment a bit to see what appeals to and/or works best for you.

    1. We still do not understand how information practices from the worlds of learning, finance, industry, and administration cross-pollinated. From the fourteenth century onward, accountants developed complex instructions for note-taking to describe holdings and transactions, as well for the recording of numbers and calculations. By the seventeenth century, merchants, and indeed ship captains, engineers, and state administrators, were known to travel with trunks of memoranda, massive inventories, scrap books, and various ledgers and log books that mixed descriptive notes and numbers. By the eighteenth century, tables and printed forms cut down on the need for notes and required less description and more systematic numerical notes. Notaries also were master information handlers, creating archives for their legal and financial documents and cross-referencing catalogue systems.

      I'm noticing no mention here of double entry book keeping or the accountant's idea of waste books.

      There's also no mention of orality or memory methods either.

    2. The humanist remedy for information overload was to produce an unprecedented number of manuals about how to read books. They outlined what Blair calls the four S’s of early modern information management: storage, sorting, selection, summary.

      I'd love to have a list of these and some of their similarities. What would oral cultures have done? How would/did they manage their overflow of information, besides overwriting the new/improved and forgetting the old/unuseful?

  14. Oct 2020
    1. It looks to me like Andy and Michael are grasping at recreating with modern technology and tools what many (most? all?) indigenous cultures around the world used to ritually learn and memorize their culture's knowledge. Mnemonics, spaced repetition, graded initiation, orality, dance, and song were all used as a cohesive whole to do this.

      The best introduction to many of these methods and their pedagogic uses is best described by Lynne Kelly's book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture.

      If they take her ideas as a basis and then layer on their own thinking, I think they'll get much further much quicker. Based on my reading of their work thus far, they're limiting themselves.

    1. In most oral societies, however, traditions are understood to bemalleable; that is, they are supposed to be changed and made relevant to the new situationsin which they are cited.

      And this is almost just what we see in modern religion concerning the bible. Even though it's written down, people read the words and change their original meaning and intent to make them relevant to their modern lives rather than the older historical context in which they were originally created.

    1. Sioned Davies is Chair of Welsh at Cardiff University. Her special interest is the interplay between orality and literacy, together with the performance aspects of medieval Welsh narrative.

      Oh! This is fascinating. Perhaps some interesting tidbits for my growing theory about the borders of orality and literacy could be hiding in some of her research?

  15. Feb 2019
    1. omen's rheloric should focus on the art of conversation

      What would Ong say about this??

    2. I have made no distinction in what has been said between Speaking and Writing, because tho they are talenL'i which do not always meet, yet >"'1•""�� there is no material difference between 'cm.

      I think Ong would take issue with the notion that there is no "material difference" between speaking and writing. Writing is a "technology" so to speak, and thus presents itself differently than mere thought through speaking. One can go back and edit writing, whereas orality is not so easily done.

  16. Jan 2019
    1. xcessive power granted tolanguage to determine what is rea

      Ong talks about this on Orality and Literacy--if an idea is written down, it is understood as being more "real" than ideas that are spoken. I wonder how this translates into digital communication?

  17. Mar 2017
    1. Writing, he claims, is prior to speech-not historically, of course, but conceptually, in that writing shows more clearly than speech does how language is different from what it sup-posedly represents.

      I have never been able to reconcile this with Ong's approach, that even writing involves sounding words out in your head. The text here is making it out that Derrida's only using it as an example, that both are equally at a remove, which, fair enough, but I'm not seeing how writing has primacy over speech. Bail me out here, y'all.

    1. Why, we ask at once, was there no continuous writing done by women before the eighteenth century?

      Point raised by Fr. Ong in The Presence of the Word "With the appearance of what we have called the sound-sight split in Latin, that stream of the language which developed into the modern romance vernaculars remained in use in the home, but the other stream known as Learned Latin, which moved only in artificially controlled channels through the male world of the schools was no longer anyone's mother tongue, in a quite literal sense." There was an active language-world for women in ancient Rome, but its one that was not recorded, and is now lost to time.

  18. Sep 2016
    1. There are different testing styles. Like some people will write a paragraph in one text, while others, will hit send everytime they would have taken a breath had they been saying those words

      Now this is a fascinating possibility, texting for some is an almost direct oral crossover from speech where you hit enter "everytime you would have taken a breath"